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The person who wears the mask called PTSD.

The person who wears the mask called PTSD.

Is a person who has seen and experienced things no human should have to endure.

Is a person who suffers through intense emotional pain, which weighs on the mind and the soul.

Is a person who relives their traumas, their brain will just not let go… even when not wanting to hold onto those memories.

Is a person who no longer drifts through life with ease, every day brings a new challenge, and takes every ounce of energy they have.

Is a person who feels lost within themselves, as the mask shelters them from their true being.

Is a person who knows the meaning of safety, so powerfully that keeping it becomes an excessive need to protect and take caution.

Is a person who knows alone, and many times will battle in silence.

Is a person who may carry much guilt, shame, negative thoughts and feelings of themselves, or even the world around them.

Is a person who may view themselves as a burden, a failure, useless, that others are better off without.

Is a person who knows the face of death, thoughts of, and the challenge it is… not to give into it.

This is the same person that…

Is a person who cares about others, not wanting to let anyone down.

Is a person who knows love deeply, though the mask does not always allow it to shine through.

Is a person with strength, more strength than any person should have to experience.

Is a person who will stand up for another, no thought of doing so needed.

Is a person who will not turn their back away from another that needs help.

Is a person who does not place judgement on others, they know what judgement brings firsthand.

Is a person who respects life, in a way that only they can understand.

Is a person who is intelligent, carries wisdom that is beyond what most people have to offer.

Is a person who knows how to stand back up and still step forward, when life brings them to their knees.

Is a person who this world would be truly lost without them… If only they could see that through the mask of PTSD.

Life becomes an everyday struggle when PTSD enters it, and becomes a lasting part of it. PTSD does not make one weak, it forms the strong ones, that can make it through anything life brings. PTSD can make their life feel like a very dark and lonely place, please show them there is still a light, there is still hope, and they are still loved beyond what PTSD will allow them to acknowledge.

To the one with PTSD…

I will never let go of you. I will be one to help give you extra strength when PTSD brings you to your knees. I will offer you my hand, my patience, my understanding, my love, and will help guide you when needed. But I will NEVER let go of you! Do NOT give up on yourself, you ARE stronger than PTSD! You bring so much meaning to this world, to life, and to me… NEVER give up, never give in to PTSD, take my hand and hold on!

We WILL get through this life together… you are not alone!

 Love, Me

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Category: Letters to use for Others, Uncategorized  Tags:  Comments off

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month)

PTSD

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month),

I might as well go ahead and say hello to you, it’s no secret you are here. You have made it very known that you had no intentions of skipping your visit to us this year. I’ve seen your little tactics, all of your messages have been received. So please do not think they went unnoticed, your visit is not a surprise to me.

I know you love your games you play, messing with the mind. You love to cause a chaos, you try to cause it every time.

I know you love to dance at night, your type of party through one’s dreams. You bring so much restlessness and oh how you love to hear one’s screams. Then you carry your party on through to daylight, when one is tired and needs peaceful sleep. Pushing them on to follow you, you never let them be.

I know how you love to create an environment that’s completely out of control. As you play back the traumatic visions, that weigh heavily on one’s soul. You do not allow them to rest, they are not allowed any peace. You play those same visions repeatedly, to see if you can get them to break.

I know how you love to shelter one from everyone, and everything they love so dear, just causing more confusion, heartache, and despair. Your eyes get large with excitement, as you watch a loved one’s reach, as they try to pull one back from you to weaken your grip of strength.

I know you do not like to slow down, high speed is your desire. You love to feel the adrenaline pumping, pumping hard through one’s veins. Their mind in such a fury it can cause them to lose control. You love watching the anxiety, frustration, and even anger it can bring. You like to keep them on high alert and fear what your next step may be.

I know you love pushing one to the point they feel like they cannot take anymore. You love that type-rope between life and death, and watching them struggle for balance. You bring a challenge all year long but this is your favorite month, when you can push one to their furthest point, to see if this will be the year they take your plunge.

But there is something that you missed in your party you like to bring. The one with PTSD is not going to fall, not quietly upon their knees. They are not going to give in to you, or to the chaos that you bring. There are thousands standing with us, that help each other every day. We all stand together, to make sure everyone survives you, and makes it to another day! You may bring your little party, but we have one of our own. We share our tools to battle you, and we NEVER stand alone!

You PTSD, do not own us, you just simply brought changes to our lives! You may think you hold such power but each day we are chipping that away, one symptom at a time!

So bring your little party, your chaos and discontent. We know how to handle you and will NEVER willingly give in. We will carry each other through you and to see another day. We are teaching each other how to live again, by keeping you at bay.

Never standing alone against you,
Me

For more information and to learn about #PTSD and how to live life with it, please visit us at…
A Spouse’s Story PTSD on FaceBook

Dear August, September, October…

Dear August, September, October…

You all are the hardest months of the year, as well as a few that follow you. You are the PTSD anniversary time frames for so many people and this year you have come with a vengeance!

August, 

You played it sneaky this year and tip-toed in, but I want to let you know you have been seen! This was not nice of you and all of us will be happy to see you pass soon. You have given us a challenge this year, as you have PTSD symptoms stirring a little earlier than normal and added all of the new challenges and triggers you have brought with you this year. I know there are no rules to this challenge and survival, but if there is a thing called cheating, you have accomplished it with your early arrival of symptoms! But, you will soon be gone and we have survived you! So no, you have not won and next year there will be caution to what you may bring. So to you, we will be happy to say “bye-bye” until next year!

September, 

You are the most dreaded month of the year for MANY, MANY people around the world! We don’t like you and we don’t like what you bring! You are the month that tortured so many lives in the past, and the results haunt so many each year as PTSD anniversaries arrive. I just want to warn you, there’s a different game being played this year! WE ALL are standing together to battle you, to survive you, and we WILL live! We are leaning on each other, we are helping each other, and we are learning from each other! You may bring a massive challenge with you, you may bring us to our knees, but we are stronger then you will ever be! We see you approaching, and we are ready for you! We will see to it that no one will be standing alone while you are here!

October,

You are the aftermath of September for many, and the PTSD anniversary beginning for many others. You bring a combination of things with you as you approach. You are also the beginning of the holiday seasons which has always proven to be another challenge. What was said to September, pay attention closely, because we will handle you the same way! We have formed many ways of handling and managing you and what you bring. So you might want to play by our rules and not your own… we will fight back TOGETHER if you give us a battle. So please take it easy this year so people can make it through you with a little peace. You are the month we will no longer remain on our knees September may bring us briefly to.

To all of the months,

We know the challenges and discontent you bring is very real. We know you and what you bring cannot be avoided. We know that you bring so much pain and suffering during your visit to those with PTSD, as well as their loved ones. But, WE are changing the rules on you! We are letting others know they are not alone in battling you, we are letting them know there are others out here for them and with them. And no matter how many times you cause people to fall upon their knees while you are here, we will offer our hands to help them back up to their feet!

PTSD may never go away, certain time frames are going to be worse then others. But we are learning how to manage it and make it through the rough times, months, and anniversaries that it brings.

We will not only survive you, we will relearn how to LIVE!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

“It will be okay. I offer you my hand to bring you up from the knees you sit upon. Stand my friend, keep stepping forward and don’t give up, this too will pass.”

“It will be okay. I offer you my hand to bring you up from the knees you sit upon. Stand my friend, keep stepping forward and don’t give up, this too will pass.”

I have heard some really tough and heartbreaking situations this week. Sadly, I can honestly relate to almost all of them, rather through my own eyes or those of my husband’s. But you know what, I know that things can get better then they may be for you right now… I know this for a fact, because we have been to the same place you may be kneeling right now.

We have walked in the tattered shoes PTSD and other mental illnesses/disabilities can bring, where it wears on you, the holes worn in the bottom of the soles cause scars upon your weary feet. A pain so great that you do not want to take another step.

We have shed many tears, through heartbreak, frustration, anger, and facing the unknown. The words that are spit can be damaging. The mind places tricks upon you like magic, of what is real and what is not.

We have tackled serious relationship issues. The mindset of fantasy, fairy tale stories become a vision of the unknown. Full of questions, heartache, resentment, and disbelief to what is before you and the changes which have occurred. Trying to make sense of what was, compared to the new reality before you now.

We have walked through the darkest of dark places feeling as if we were blind, no guide to help us. We have faced the feelings and thoughts of life, death, or walking away from the pain. Questioning if this PTSD battle is worth the fight.

It does not matter which shoes you wear upon your feet, or which side of the fence of PTSD you are on, those things are very real!

We discovered long ago that sitting upon that fence together, with acceptance, patience, understanding, communication, learning and re-learning who each other is now, all of those dark things can start to heal and many can fade into a memory of the past with time and effort.

It’s not going to be easy, it will take extra help, and PTSD is not just going away. But I can tell you, there is still life with PTSD! There can still be love, good days, smiles, and everything else that one dreams of. Things in life are just different now and a different type of life exists. You can make changes to the future and walk a new path. Never lose sight of who you are, even if you are masked by what happened, you are still you.

PTSD does not have to be the end of life, relationships, or family. Every day we are proving that, with every step forward we make, and even with the steps backwards that do come to teach us more. PTSD is still here, it has not gone away, but we are proof that things can get better then the darkest of places it can bring. Don’t give up, don’t give up on yourself or your loved one. Use the skills and things that can help.

We share our story, our experiences, and our life, in hopes that another will be given a shortcut to the long dark road we walked. And with a small ray of light in there guiding your way. 😉 You are worth this battle, you have the strength, you have the will power, and you have the extra hand and knowledge… use them! YOU are stronger then PTSD!

Right now I wish I could wrap my arms around each and every one of you that are having great struggles, embrace you with a huge (((HUG))) and whisper to you…

“It will be okay. I offer you my hand to bring you up from the knees you sit upon. Stand my friend, keep stepping forward and don’t give up. This dark time will pass, good days do come.” ~Rebecca

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Letter: To my dearest husband

PTSD

To my dearest husband,

I wanted to write something directly to you…

I know the weight of your medical is hard for you, and it rolls over to the weight of the world for you. I know you are having a really tough time right now, you don’t have to say it for me to know it, I know you oh so well. I see it in your eyes, I see it through your expressions, I hear it through the words you do not speak, as you sit so quietly and to yourself. I hear the words you do speak and feel the pain you carry within them. I see how your head is hung low, and I catch a glimpse of the tears as they fall down your handsome cheekbones. I hear you speak the words “failure“, “burden“, and how you say “I lost everything and lost myself to this illness” and “Why can’t others understand?“. I also hear the words “you could do so much better without me.”

Well I need you to know something. Really hear and listen to my words when I say this and understand that they come completely from my heart, my love for you, and with honest truth.

I know you view yourself as a burden to others, I know those are real feelings. But I want you to view things right now through my eyes, and what I see. I see a man that is not at all a burden, yes things may have changed in our lives but that does not mean you are not loved or wanted by those closest to you, it does not mean what has become a part of you is too much for me. Just because life did not go as planned and you have to rely on others more than normal, does not mean you are a burden, it means that you are loved. Loved by those who are there for you and standing beside you. When a person allows their own life to change in order to be there for another, that is a choice and with that choice comes great meaning. It is easy for one to walk out the door and never look back, but that is not the case here. You have people standing beside you because they choose to, I choose to. When that happens there is no such word as “burden”, it’s love and it’s because I believe in the man you are.

I know you view yourself as a failure, again I know those are very real feelings to you. Just because your life has changed and taken a different path does not make you a failure. It simply means things have changed. I know it hurts deeply that you can no longer proceed with your past dreams, but it does not mean there are no new dreams and goals to be made. The pages of life have just turned.

A failure would be not accomplishing anything. That’s not what I see before me. I see a strong man that has accomplished so much in his lifetime so far. A man who fights every day to make it to the next, no matter what struggle is before him. I see a man who people… many people… look up to, respect, turn to for help and guidance. A man that when something is wrong he looks for a solution, when something is broken he fixes it, when someone is down he lends them a smile or kind word, when help is needed he is there. In my eyes that is not a man who is a failure, that is a man who has succeeded in life, no matter what disabilities are a part of it now. YOU have succeeded, and will continue to.

I know you view your life as you have lost everything, those are very real feelings and I do understand. But in reality what have you lost? A career, things? Are those things really everything? No, they are not. You have things that some of the greatest of men, of all time, long for. You have people who care about you and love you and respect you. You carry a meaning to your life that is beyond materialistic things or past accomplishments. You may view what you have lost, but in reality look at what you have gained… so much.

I want you to see what I see, who I see you as, through my eyes. Even with the changes you have experienced due to disabilities, it does not change the true you, who you really are and what you stand for. And I know that a lot of times disabilities mask things, and I truly understand that, but I know you are still here. You are one of the greatest men I know. You stole my heart the first day I met you… and there is not a disability on this earth that will ever take that feeling away from me. You are my hero and my soul mate. I still get butterflies in my stomach like a teenager when you look at me or you walk into the room. I am still attracted to you as the first day I met you. I have the utmost respect and consideration for you. You are my best friend and the one I can always count on and trust above all others. You are the one that taught me to stand on my own two feet and be my own individual. And you are the one there to catch me when I fall, and to hold me when I cry.

That’s not a burden, and that sure is not a failure! That’s a partner in life and a very strong one. And there is no disability great enough to strip that away from us, because we are too strong to allow it to. I stand beside you and with you through life’s changes with pride, love, patience, and understanding. And when you hit the rough patches I will be here to pull you through them, and to fight them with you… no differently then you would do for me.

I know this is a difficult one, but Please do not hold yourself as guilty for what has or how my life has changed. It’s simple, I CHOOSE to be here. I CHOOSE to fight this battle with and beside you. That one is my choice and one I have made. Move forward with me, do not let guilt hold you back. I know that’s easier said then done, but just remember it is my choice I have made and I accept you and our life the way things are.

I know your disabilities and the struggle they bring weigh you down at times, but I want you to always remember that I am here to help you raise that handsome chin back up and I am honored to be going through this life with you… and that firmly means no matter what road is ahead of us! You are not alone in this, and I choose to be here. I hope this will help you see what I see, and help you realize that even though your feelings are very real, you are much more and greater then you are viewing yourself right now.

I know PTSD and Depression have their firm grip on your right now. But I also know that you and I will get through this, just as we always have and do together. Hang on to my hand, I will not let go, and I will be here to help guide you and walk through the steps of this life with you.

“You could do so much better without me”… No, no I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine life without you being a part of it! Live this life with me! 

Love,
Me

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

For others to share with Family.

To Our Family,

Sometimes it’s difficult to say things without the weight of emotions, the stress brought by debate, or others not seeing things the way I might. So I bring this to you in another way.

Family is an important word, one that is more powerful when the meaning comes with it. You are our family, so I hope you take the time to read this and really hear my words and my heart.

I know things have changed since PTSD became a part of the life I live with and the one I live beside. I know you may not understand it, may not accept it, and at times may feel it would be better for me to walk away from. So with this, I hope I bring you a better understanding about my life, our life.

PTSD is a part of our life now, and PTSD is very real. It’s not something that is made up or used as an excuse for words or actions. It’s not something that a person can just get over, snap out of, or suck up. It’s something that can be very damaging if one/others do not take the time learn about it, figure out what helps, ways of coping with what does or can come with it, and if a true support system is not put into place.

PTSD is not a sign of one’s weakness. Fighting through life every day is actually a sign of strength, because it takes a very strong person to battle what it does in real life bring. It’s a way the body and brain copes with something traumatic that happened to them. Neither you, nor I ,will ever fully understand what happened to one with PTSD. We were not there at that moment and time or did not experience it through their eyes and what came with it. The only thing we can do is know the now, to be the ones to support them and help them move forward through their life with PTSD and us.

PTSD has many symptoms that cause a person to not seem like the person we knew before. They are still the same person, the only thing that changed was what happened to them leading to PTSD. The nightmares and lack of sleep, anxiety, flashbacks and triggers from what happen to them. At times can cause angry outbursts or even numbing sensations, where they just feel nothing. Guilt from what PTSD has caused in their life or others. Even survivor’s guilt, from living when another person did not. It can at times cause depression, and even the lack of wanting to live another day. The avoidance of people, places, and things… including at times family members and family gatherings can be just too overwhelming for them. Along with many other things, including physical health issues which can occur with PTSD.

Does this mean I should not be with them? No, absolutely not. It means they need me, and you, now more then ever. Suffering from PTSD does not make them a bad person, even during times that they may seem to be… because of PTSD. It does not mean they do not deserve a family, or that they should be alone. It does not mean they are a harm or will always be a harm to others. It simply means they are coping or still learning to cope with something different then you or I are.

It means they need us to be supportive while they work through learning how to cope. To be there with them through the hard times, as well as the times when we can all laugh and enjoy the good times together. It means we lean on each other without the stigma mental illness many times carry, or judgement. It means when something is not going well we help each other through it instead of turning our backs to someone who needs us. It means we work through PTSD as a family. Together.

Sometimes it’s going to be hard as a family member to hear or witness things that may come from PTSD. You are family and I know you care what happens and what I or we experience. But I need you to understand that I am here because I choose to be. This person I live beside means the world to me and my life and I choose to help them through each day in order for them and us to make it to the next.

PTSD is an injury from what happened to them, it’s not something they asked for or would ever wish upon another. It can be managed with help and learning how to cope with the symptoms. And it by all means needs a support system to help get them through what PTSD causes.

I am asking you, as OUR family, to take a little time to learn about PTSD, what comes with it, and things that can be done to help BOTH of us.

Me

To learn more about PTSD please visitA Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Letters to use for Others, Uncategorized  Comments off

PTSD point of view: For others to share with Family.

To My Family,

I have been trying to find the words to explain to you what I go through each day with now having PTSD. PTSD is not always something I can speak openly about, but it’s something I really need you to understand so you can understand me, the way I am now.

I care about our relationship, I care about what you think, and I care about the way you view me. I want you in my life because family is extremely important to me and important with what I am going through now as well as my future and our future as a family.

PTSD is NOT something I wished for, and I would not wish it upon anyone else. It’s caused by something that happened to me. A trauma that will not just leave my mind or my thoughts. It’s not something I can just snap out of, get over, or suck up. It haunts my nights and effects my days, but I try my best to make each day the best it can possibly be.

It’s very real and takes a lot of time, energy, learning, coping, as well as support to make it from one day to the next. It’s not a battle that anyone deserves to fight alone in silence. The hard facts to grasp, are those that don’t learn to manage it and don’t have a support system, have a very difficult time surviving it. I am one that is choosing to fight, to survive life with PTSD, so this is something I really needed to share with you! Because YOU are my family and you matter to me.

PTSD is a battle within that is unseen by the eyes of others, but being unseen does not make it any less real to life. It does not mean I was weak or that I am weak now, if anything it makes me stronger. It’s not an easy or simple battle to fight, but I am fighting it.

PTSD brings many symptoms with it that can at times make me act, talk, or respond differently then I use to. At times I may do things or say things that are really not meant as they come across to others as. It’s all based around what happened to me and what I went through. It’s not that I love you any less, it’s that I am still learning to cope with and live life with this unseen injury. It’s not an excuse, it’s what really happened to me, but I’m trying to live life through that.

Just so you have a little better understanding, PTSD symptoms can include… Anxiety, Avoidance of people, places, and things, Flashbacks/Triggers… reoccurring thoughts of what happened, Anger/Outbursts, Emotional numbness, Guilt… even Survivor’s Guilt, Sleep problems, Nightmares, at times Depression, even Suicidal Thoughts, and can cause many Physical Health issues, and more. Things that did not bother me before, may bother me differently now, like the way someone says/words something or the way they act.

PTSD does not make me a bad person, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy, it doesn’t mean I will harm others, it just means my brain and body are coping in a different way with an extreme trauma I experienced.

Stigma of a mental illness or injury, many times, will cause people to feel uncomfortable around me with not knowing how they should act or what they should say, and at times just the word PTSD causes people to fear those who suffer from it. I don’t suffer from a plague, I suffer from PTSD. I’m still the same person I was, I just suffer from something that many people don’t understand. I have different things I have… and are continuing to learn in order to cope with what my life now includes, but I am no less of a person or human being then I have always been. I just want people to treat me like they always have, I just want to be treated normal, but taking into account I do also now suffer from PTSD.

I really would like for you, as my family, to take the time to learn about PTSD so you can better understand me and what life is like for me now. As well as, it will help you understand what you can do for yourself as my family when I may not act quite like you were use to me acting before PTSD. I don’t expect you to understand what happened to me, there is no way for anyone to do that without being in my shoes at that time. I would just like you to learn about the now. What PTSD is, what it causes and how it does change life for me as well as you, what you can do, and be there as support for me. Support, something that is about being family.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, you are my family and I do love and care about you!

Me

To learn more about PTSD please visitA Spouse’s Story PTSD

A PTSD Dad…

A PTSD Dad

Being a dad may be a lot different now then it use to be. But this thing called PTSD that haunts your nights and disrupts your days, never takes away from a child that speaks the words “my Dad”.

Dad is a strong word with a strong meaning behind it. Some children may say the word pops, and some still say daddy or papa. It doesn’t matter which is used, when it comes from the mouth of a child, with love, meaning, and pride, it still boils down to “my Dad”.

Any man can be a father, but a special man to a child’s heart and through their eyes know him as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may feel guilty, because they can’t spend as much time with a child or go places another father might be able to or as often. But a child sees through eyes of innocence, they do not judge you on the amount of time PTSD may take away from them, they do not count the minutes on a clock, they know the quality of the time you give, and they speak those words “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may have different schedules or act in different ways then other fathers, but a child still recognizes love through the illness that haunts you, and they still view you as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad teaches something special, and he needs not say a word to teach it. He teaches a child not to judge others, he teaches a child to see through a person’s disabilities or illnesses, and teaches a child that no disability can prevent a man from being a man known as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad shows a child that life is special and the value in every day that comes. He shows a child that you don’t take life for granted, that you cherish it and you do your best through it. That child in turn knows him as “my Dad”.

A child does not know the word stigma. That is something that is taught or not taught to a child. A PTSD dad shows a child that stigma is just a word and he shows them life past a simple word when others may not see it. He teaches them the truth. That child, that child is a child that can change the world. That child will say the world will change because of “my Dad”.

To the Dads out there that battle PTSD each day of your life. You have a special gift, rather you see it or not. Many of you may view yourself as letting your children down, many may view that your life is not worth what you put others through because of your disability, many may view that you are not worthy at all. If you view yourself that way, before you judge yourself so harshly, you might want to really listen to your child. PTSD may seem to take a lot away from you, but don’t allow it to take away those words “my Dad”. Your child or children love you, honor you, and they by all means look up to you. Why? Because you ARE their DAD! That is something special. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the PTSD Dads! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Thing “To Say” to one with PTSD:

We have talked about what NOT to say to one who has PTSD, but what are things “TO SAY” that can help?

Thing “To Say” to one with PTSD:

* “I’m always here if you want to talk”

PTSD needs support, and many times one with PTSD just wants an ear to listen. When talking with someone who has PTSD, it is important not to interrupt when they are talking. Truly listen to what they are saying. Then respond without changing the subject. Communication! A huge key.

* “I know I can’t understand exactly what you went through, but I’m trying to understand the best I can…”

No, we will never understand exactly what someone else went through with their trauma, so it is important not to say comments that are out of context. We only see “what” they are going through now as a result of the trauma, so our understanding comes from seeing the results not from the trauma itself.

* “I care about you/love you.”

PTSD is tough. Sometimes just reassuring one that you care about them can help. Sometimes they “need” to hear it. It gives the comfort that even through the rough times you are still there for them and still care no matter what you are going through.

* “Can you help me with…”

Many times when one has PTSD, we know they battle so much each day that we don’t want to add to it. So at times we stop asking them for help with even simple things. Where you think you are helping, you might actually be doing the opposite, it could be taken as “I’m not needed any more” or “they are fine without me”. Keep a balance. Ask for help if you need it or would like to have it from one with PTSD, and accept a no if they don’t feel up to it without tossing negative remarks at them. By asking let’s them know they are still needed and helps keep the balance.

* “Would you like to…”

This helps keep them included, even if it’s just going for a walk or watching a movie. Again, stay away from any negative remarks if the answer is no, you could follow it up with “is there anything else yo would like to do?”. You are giving input to something you would like to do with them and also backing it up with a different option of their choice. The important thing is for PTSD not to get into that stuck position too much.

* “You seem…(angry, frustrated, sad, etc) today, do you want to talk or is there anything I could help with?”

This is important. Many times one with PTSD might not realize their actions or the way they are coming across to someone else. By saying this you are pointing out how you are viewing things, you are opening the door for if they want or need to talk, and if that’s not the way they are feeling it opens communication for what they are actually feeling and keeps misunderstandings from happening or one taking it personally.

* “I am taking your medical condition to heart, keeping it in mind, can we talk about the way I am feeling about…?”

By saying things along this line before starting a serious conversation helps let the one with PTSD know you are not tossing their feeling and what they are going through to the side. You are keeping them in consideration. But you are also allowing for your feelings to be discussed on whatever topic is at hand. Communication is important, and both of you are important. This gives a decent icebreaker to prepare one with PTSD that a serious talk is needed but you also care what they think and how they feel. Do not misuse this! If you are keeping them in mind, make sure you do!

These are a few things that can help with knowing what “TO” say to one with PTSD. Words and how they are used becomes a great importance with PTSD so also think before you speak, keep communication lines open, make sure you do not just assume things, and make sure you use your ears and not just your mouth. 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

“What NOT to say to a Caregiver/Spouse of one with PTSD”

“What NOT to say to a Caregiver/Spouse of one with PTSD”

A few weeks ago we went over things not to say to ones with PTSD. Now here is a twist, what about the one who cares for them? People do not realize in many cases what a spouse/caregiver of one with PTSD go through from day to day. And just as with the one who suffers from PTSD, there are also things NOT to say to the spouse/caregiver.

* “It must be nice to be able to stay at home.” 

We went over this one yesterday for those that may not have seen it. This is one of the worst things you could say or even “do” to a spouse! Their “choice” when it comes to PTSD is not the comfort of staying at home, it’s a choice normally between life and death of their loved one. Many of the spouses/caregivers are the reason that person is still able to make it from day to day. PTSD needs support and many times someone to help full time. To see more detailed information on this phrase please check out the posting on this phrase. You might be shocked with what comes with it!

* “You need to leave him/her!”

Those are pretty much fighting words, or words that could push the person you are saying them to away from you. When a spouse/caregiver confides in you things that they go through, they are turning to you as someone they trust and for support. If you do not live with the person who has PTSD, you really are not in the position to be telling a spouse what to do regarding their relationship. By saying these words you are not helping! Yes, by all means life with PTSD is different, and to many outsiders it can seem scary, however there can still be life and family with PTSD. Don’t cut someone who is seeking support off at the knee caps by telling them to just give up and walk away. In fact, it may very well be you they walk away from!

* “You need to get a job.”

Many times when PTSD is involved, it’s just not possible for a spouse to work. They are already in a position that IS a full time job! Caring for their loved one! It is more then a go to and come home from a 40 hour week, it is a job that is 24/7! By saying this to them, all you are doing is adding more stress to their situation, damaging their self-esteem, and not supporting the fact of the sacrifices they are actually making for their loved one.

* “Are you going to live off the government your whole life?”

Ouch! Sounds like you don’t know how the system works very well. The truth is, many families do not qualify for state or govt aid/assistance. And in reality, especially if the one with PTSD is still in the benefits process (which can take years mind you), they are actually between the criteria to qualify, a little too much but not enough to live on. Even ones who are getting some sort of assistance sure don’t get it because they want to, it’s because they have no other options! Especially if they have children to think about along with their disabled spouse! It’s actually very humiliating in many cases because these are people who have worked their entire lives, and many have lost everything due to a disability that is out of their control. It takes swallowing a lot of pride to ask for help. And if they are ones that are not on govt assistance but get medical benefits, those are earned benefits, not a hand out! I can guarantee you they would rather be working then having to cope with the disability before them.

* “Your husband/wife is faking.”

Let me tell you something up front. Anyone who fakes PTSD does have a mental problem and needs to be seriously put away somewhere. PTSD is no joke, and most likely, you as an outsider to the household will only see one with PTSD on a good day. You are not seeing what PTSD actually brings to one, you are seeing the fake smile on their face of trying to be normal, or fit in, or do something for their spouse/children that is actually very much out of PTSD’s comfort zone. How about giving some credit that they are able to actually be around others when they can? That takes a lot and once they get back home you can pretty much bet they are going to be drained and not be able to do anything else the rest of the day. Telling someone their spouse is faking PTSD is like sucker punching them in the face… now would you do that to someone you care about? Nope, you sure wouldn’t, so stay away from those words.

* “I can take better care of him/her then you can.”

PTSD bring a lot of stress already, and many things that if you one that speaks these words you probably don’t really understand PTSD. Parents, we all love you, but you are normally the ones guilty of saying this phrase. Your son/daughter’s spouse is the one that truly knows them the best. I know you raised your child, however I also know the spouse is the one that has been there since PTSD, the one your son/daughter trusts or they wouldn’t have them in their life. PTSD causes a huge lack in trust, so if your son/daughter trusts their spouse, then it might be wise for you to trust your child’s judgement and decision on this one. You need to be supportive of their spouse. PTSD brings a lot on the family and that spouse needs your support, not a lashing and conflict from you. Work together! If you want to be helpful to your son/daughter, give the spouse a break to do the shopping, or attend a school event, or time to handle finances, ask to have the kids for a weekend or over night. Your child and their spouse need you… BOTH of them do! The best thing you can do for your child, is not to try to take over, which is a parental instinct, but to just let them know you are there to help both of them!

* “You are why he/she is acting this way”

Actually, unless it’s an oddball of a case, they are NOT why the one with PTSD is acting this way, they are not the reason for the changes. PTSD is! The spouse just happens to be the one there when PTSD came to life or became worse in some cases. It does not mean the spouse is the one to blame. Everyone likes to have a reason for changes in a person, and pointing the finger at the person the one with PTSD is closest to is the easiest thing to do, it’s what makes sense, right? Well, you are wrong! PTSD is the reason and the cause, the trauma the person experienced, nothing more. The best thing you can do for one with PTSD is to stop pointing fingers and start providing support, again, to BOTH of them. The fastest way to tear a whole family apart is to blame the spouse. The one with PTSD is not going to go for that very well, and most likely they will pull away from you for doing so. They trust their spouse, you need to trust their opinion in this and stop the finger pointing. PTSD causes so many changes, but it all links back to the trauma, not the person that’s closest to them.

* “You sleep too much.” or “Your not a child, why are you napping?”

This one gets old to hear. If you take the time to educate yourself on what PTSD is and it’s symptoms, you will find that it only makes sense to take naps. One with PTSD has nightmares/terrors, when these occur the spouse is not going to get much if any sleep, just a fact to it. I even heard things like “sleep in another room”. Well that’s an awesome idea, however why would I want to sleep in a room away from my husband and what happens when he comes up from his nightmares/terrors and no one is there to ground him from them? What happens when he is disoriented from his surroundings and I’m again not there to ground him? With PTSD, we take sleep when we can get it. Many times that is with napping during the day. We need sleep, it’s the only way we can continue to function not only for taking care of others, but also a way to take care of ourselves. There is no such thing as too much sleep when a person is up most nights. Our sleep hours are different then those that sleep all night then can be awake all day, we don’t get that option. So, no we are not a child, we are one who takes care of someone else. It’s the same thing as if a parent is up with a sick child all night, you can bet you are going to be exhausted the following day. With PTSD it’s the same thing, except our nights equal many nights, some even every night.

* “I’m upset because you keep cancelling our plans. If you don’t want to go just say so!”

Actually it has nothing to do with not wanting to go somewhere or not wanting to join in. Fact is we would LOVE to! But the other fact to it is PTSD. PTSD comes with anxiety of gathering, crowds, anxiety over something bad might happen, or feeling of being unsafe, and many more things. It also comes with not being able to keep very good schedules. You never know when PTSD might flair up causing you not to be able to attend something. Many times if one who cares for one with PTSD can attend something, it’s a last minute thing “oh I can make it”. You have to have patience with one that has PTSD therefore you also have to have patience with the one who takes care of them. Wouldn’t it be much nicer to say something like “I really hate that you can’t make it, we would love for you to come, but we understand.” How about “I understand, how about we do that some other time when he/she is having a better day”. By saying “you don’t want to…” just adds a negative stress to someone when it’s not needed, it can also cause great damage to them wanting to be around you if you won’t take the time to understand their situation.

* “Just leave him/her at home and you go.”

This is something that is not always possible! Yes, there are ones who can leave their spouse for a certain amount of time, but there are also one’s that can not. Many times in order for the spouse to go out, they have to arrange for someone else to be there with the one with PTSD. And that is not as easy as it sounds! They have to have someone that understands PTSD and how to care for that person, which includes knowing how to handle them if a trigger happens, knowing how to ground them from a flashback, know when they need to take their medications, and a long list of things. Not just anyone is willing to say “hey I’ll run right over so you can go do something” lol… it doesn’t happen! Caring for someone else does not allow for the freedom so to speak that many others have. And when we can go somewhere, you can bet your money we will!

* “Wow you are snappy today, what’s your problem?”

Well, consideration is needed on this one. To start with, there’s the chance without thinking you said one of the phrases mentioned in this and that’s where the attitude towards you is coming form. The other things that it could be is maybe it’s been a stressful day, maybe they didn’t get much if any sleep last night, maybe there has been extra weight added to their shoulders. In stead of pointing out in a negative way how snappy they are at you, try saying something along the lines of “You aren’t acting your joyful self today, do you want to talk?” Or maybe “You seemed stressed, is there anything I can help with?” Or maybe “hey I can stick around for a little while and hang out, why don’t you go catch a nap and I ‘ll hold down the fort for you.” WOW! Now don’t those make more sense? If someone is being snappy there’s probably a good reason for it, find the reason and see if there is any way you can help out, it might just be lending an ear to listen.

* “You have to do this”

AVOID this!!! Don’t be pushy or demanding to one that has PTSD or the one who cares for one with PTSD, if you are, you are most likely going to hit a huge roadblock! This person already has enough to handle in everyday life, then their regular things such as children, housework, cooking… that when you demand something, it is very doubtful you are going to get what you are wanting or wanting them to do. And don’t keep harassing them, especially about events that are coming up! This is just going to effect the one with PTSD which in return will roll to the spouse/caregiver. Things like “we hope you will be able to attend” is a nice reminder but never state “you have to be there” or “we are counting on you to be there” or “you will be there no matter what”. Those are pretty much shutdown words to PTSD and a spouse caring for them.

* ” He/She is fine, he/she doesn’t need all of those medications, look at him/her, he’s/she’s fine.”

Well, let me let you in on something. That person with PTSD is acting better because of those meds! If they were to drop or you push them to stop taking their meds, you can almost bet they are going to have a huge setback! The meds are one thing that makes them seem “normal” to you. No, the meds are not a cure, but they can help with the symptoms of PTSD. In many cases of PTSD, without the meds you have a case of completely out of control PTSD, and just trust me on this one, you don’t want to see that part of it! Medications can bring a sense of balance to one with PTSD, which helps them find a state to which they can learn to cope. Sure eventually some of the medications might no longer be needed, and when that time comes leave it up to the doctor along with the one with PTSD to decide together! Doctors keep track of what helps, what doesn’t help, and how one is responding, leave being a doctor to the doctor on this one. Don’t tell a spouse medications are not needed, they are the one who knows what the person was like without those medications and I can bet you because of that will make sure the one with PTSD gets the help they need.

* “You should be thankful he/she made it home alive!” ~Shanny C.

Well, see here is the issue with that, yes by all means we are thankful, however to that person with PTSD they don’t view it that way which leads to many issues (survivor’s guilt) that can arise when they have guilt of making it home when someone else didn’t. This leads to suicidal tendencies or actions. Things change life with PTSD, we are thankful for them still being with us by all means however it is a constant battle every day to keep them here.

* “God doesn’t give you more then you can handle.” ~Shanny C.

I have been guilty of saying this myself, to myself… followed by “I know you won’t give me more then I can handle, but how much more do you really think I can take?” A person caring for one with PTSD does not want to hear this, many times they are at there own brink and have to regroup to keep going. It takes a lot of strength to care for one with PTSD and it all depends on you, not God, to what you do with it. This is just not something that is positive to say to someone in a caregiver role.

* “You are too controlling” ~Amanda L.

“I have to be. If I didn’t manage the finances, the doctor apts, the household, parenting boundaries, etc…. it wouldn’t happen.” ~Amanda L.

The fact is, with PTSD it is not as much as being controlled as it is to making sure things get done. Many with PTSD have a very difficult time with decision making, and many times things if not everything is left on the spouse to decide. One with PTSD may feel they might make the wrong decision, might feel their anger will get in the way (like with disciplining children), they may also have memory issues which prevent them from being able to recall what has or has not taken place. This leaves things up to the spouse to make sure everything is taken care of and life moves forward as smoothly as possible.

*  “You can’t be mad at him. He can’t control his actions” ~Amanda L.

He can’t control PTSD. It may explain his behavior but it doesn’t excuse it. He still has to be held accountable so that he knows what the boundaries are. ~ Amanda L.

This is very much true. One can’t control PTSD, however they can learn to control what they do and do not do. It does take time however to get to this point of learning. A spouse is still human and has human feelings and responses. You can not expect them to never get upset or mad, it’s not going to happen. When these things do happen, it takes many coping skills to address the issues at hand and for both of them to move forward to a better place and understanding.

* “You’re his trigger. You just need to separate for awhile.” ~Amanda L.

I’m a person. I can’t be his trigger. Maybe there’s something I’m doing or something coming from his end that he feels vulnerable enough with me to let out…. but we can’t figure that out and move forward with treatment if he’s not here! ~Amanda L.

A trigger is something linked to the actual trauma that took place. If the spouse was not a part of that trauma or caused the trauma, then there is no way of the spouse being a trigger. This goes back to the blame game, people feel the need to blame someone actually when they don’t have answers. The blame is actually the trauma itself which caused PTSD to develop. Separating is only really needed in physical abuse cases, where the one with PTSD is physically harming the spouse. Amanda is right on with the fact that if the PTSD person is not there, then it makes it extremely difficult to face what is before you and move forward with getting help and learning to cope, and for both of you. It is really something that needs to be handled together. On the norm, when one with PTSD leaves, there is a huge break in communication which makes it harder to work through things. It also causes the one with PTSD to have the feelings which PTSD can bring, that the other person is better off without them which in many cases is not true.

 

To say the least, there are many more statements I could add to this list, but this will give you a good start to learning about and why these things should not be said to a spouse/caregiver. A spouse/caregiver has taken the time to really put their heart, time, and energy to help the one they care about. Don’t disregard that fact. There is a lot that comes with the “job” that many do not think about. Take time to learn, understand the best you can without being in their shoes, and be supportive of them! They are there because they want to be. PTSD is tough and not something everyone can handle, so when someone does, be supportive of them! They sure don’t need extra negative comments added to their life, think before you speak please.

Take time to educate yourself and be supportive to anyone that is there for one with PTSD. That person is greatly needed!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”